Rescue boat funded by Bristol artist Banksy has already saved refugees from Mediterranean Sea

The Louise Michel was bought with the proceeds of some of Banksy's paintings Credit: Louise Michel

A rescue boat for refugees which was funded by Bristol street artist Banksy is already saving people in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Louise Michel, a former French navy vessel, launched last week and features a painting from the allusive artist with a young girl holding a heart-shaped safety float.

It has already carried out several rescue missions at sea, saving 89 people from a rubber boat on Thursday 27 August.

  • You can follow the boat on Twitter

Named after a 19th-century French anarchist, the vessel was bought with the proceeds of some of Banksy's works. According to those behind the project, it "aims to help fill a void left by European authorities."

Organisers they are "leaving desperate people to drift helplessly at sea."

The Guardian reports that Banksy first made contact with Pia Klemp, an experienced captain of a number NGO boats, in September 2019.

On its website, The Louise Michel outline its mission statement:

"To uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice. We onboard the Louise Michel believe we are all individuals, nationality should not make a difference to what rights one has and how we treat each other.

"We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls - but our own."

Banksy's trio of paintings referenced the European migrant crisis, with life jackets shown washed up onto the sand. Credit: PA images

The artist's latest mission comes weeks after a trio of his paintings was sold to help fund improvements at a hospital in Bethlehem.

Three paintings depicting the European migrant crisis sold for £2.2 million in a charity auction in July.

The money from the sale of 'Mediterranean Sea View 2017' funded a new acute stroke and children's rehabilitation equipment for Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation.

Banksy's representatives have been contacted for comment.